The Church of Saint Ildefonso dates back to the 18th-century and is located in Porto, near Batalha Square. Completed in 1739, the church was built in a proto-Baroque style and features a retable by the Italian artist Niccolò Nasoni and a façade of 1932 azulejo tilework.
Prior to the building of the church of Saint Ildefonso, a chapel, known as Santo Alifon, stood on the site. Its construction date is unknown, but several early texts mention its existence. The earliest known reference to the site and the original chapel dates 1296.
The aged chapel, in danger of collapsing, was demolished in 1709 and construction began on the new church that year. The building took thirty years to complete, finally inaugurated and blessed on 18 July 1739. The first stage of construction was completed in 1730, when the main body was finished. The second construction phase, from 1730 to 1739, saw the erection of the two bell towers, and the façade and narthex were finalised.
Extensively repaired following a severe storm in 1819, the church also suffered damage from artillery fire on 21 July 1833 during the Siege of Porto. Over the years the church has undergone structural modifications and improvements.
Constructed of granite, the shape of the church's main body is that of an elongated octagon, with decorative plaster ceilings. The façade, also granite, is regular and mostly plain, with two bell towers and a rectangular recess where a figure of the patron saint of the church stands. The bell towers include decorative cornices and dentils. Each tower is topped with masonry spheres, a stone cross, and a metalwork flag.
A monolithic obelisk stands to the left of the church.
Two notable features of the church are the retable and the blue-and-white tiling. The artist and architect Niccolò Nasoni designed the retable, which was created and installed by architect Miguel Francisco da Silva in 1745.
Approximately 11,000 tiles (azulejos) cover the façade of the church, which were created by artist Jorge Colaço and placed in November 1932. The tiles depict scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso and figurative imagery from the Gospels.
R. de Santo Ildefonso 11, 4000-542 Porto, Portugal
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